By Bridget Burris
One of the practices we purchased over the years had this incredible confirmation policy for their new patients. If they did not push the confirm button or send the required “YES” for a text reminder they were turned away when they arrived in the office. This Doctor was a firm believer that we needed to “train” the patients before they even started with us that his time was valuable and they needed to show respect by confirming their appointments. As one can imagine we could not get rid of that policy fast enough! Unfortunately, it took us about 3 months in the practice before we found out about it as the team was so brain washed that they believed this was how you treated the patients and they didn’t think to let us know about it.
Today I was on a training call with a text reminder company whom we recently signed up with and the trainer was letting me know that their “best practices” ordinarily have 3 points that enable their success, the first one being their cancellation policy. I asked for an example and was given the standard wording of: “Please be aware that should you cancel your appointment with Dr *** in less than 24 hours you will be charged the fee of $50.” I immediately explained to her that we were a startup practice and that I would prefer to not set up a cancellation policy at this time as we had more time than patients! Her response was that we should pay attention to “best practice” policies as they really work to and to please consider it. She was extremely professional and honestly did a great job with training, I really don’t have any complaints with her or the company.
The reason I am writing this is that most office managers or practice administrators set up the appointment reminder systems and I feel confident that many of them agreed with this trainer that we need to RESPECT the Doctors time. Since all of the appointment reminders are done automatically and are seldom ever checked or changed over the years it may be time to verify how yours is set up. I encourage you to be open minded about your cancellation policy. Is your office really at capacity? Do you not have any more time to see new patients or OBS patients? Is your policy in line with what your values for the practice are?